To examine the relevance, depth and range of adult fiction collection stock in relation to the NSW communities the public libraries serve.
In 2011 the adult fiction Stock Quality Health Check was done to explore depth and breadth in NSW public libraries. It comprised five hundred titles, within genre clusters. These were representative across designated areas of reading interest which indicate the breadth and depth of an adult fiction collection in New South Wales. They were indicative titles rather than prescriptive, and not a list for purchase. Each author had only one title in the list. This was done to increase the diversity being investigated. The novels had to be written targeting adults, not, for example young adult titles which are read by adults as these would be addressed in another way.
Sixty three libraries from all over NSW provided their results. No library held all 500 titles. One library held 499 titles, just missing one of the horror ones, see table 1 on spreadsheet (attached) for detailed coverage. The data is available for each council, but has been coded for anonymity. The Australian Classification of Local Governments was used, except for Regional libraries (libraries which are formed because of a formal agreement between two or more councils) which were given a separate classification of RL.
The genres which were strongest in public libraries were action/adventure, Australian, classics, crime and sagas. The genres more libraries struggled with were LGBQTI, gentle reads, horror, Indigenous, science fiction, short stories and Westerns While this looks at the state wide view, there is work for individual libraries to do. Each library should be looking at how they scored, and in genres where their scores were lower, do a more detailed exploration looking at what they hold and where are their gaps. To help this work, talks by genre specialists will be organized to assist all libraries with their genre understanding. These will be by videoconference and be recorded, so that they are available to as many library staff as possible. This will be taking a collection focus to help all libraries, regardless of their size and budget improve their collections.